Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Baker but not a Cake Maker: Cinnamon Cake with Chili Chocolate Buttercream

I'm always a little stumped when people ask me what I like to bake. My baking choices change by the week, season, holiday, zodiac calendar... seriously, one of my favorite activities is picking, each week, what recipe I'll make next. I like variety and I don't have favorites (at least not for long), although like every cook, I do have staple recipes that never leave the repertoire. You might have noticed I'm pretty partial to tarts- sweet and savory.

It's probably easier for me to answer the question by listing what I don't like to make, although that isn't what people usually want to hear so I just hedge whenever I'm asked (which is often). Maybe people feel the need to make small talk whenever they're partaking of my baked goods. Maybe they're trying to avoid my asking how they like the goods. Who knows? I do tend to run into the question frequently, though. So, I'm going to give an honest answer here... I don't like making buttercream, anything that requires squirting filling inside (i.e. eclairs), desserts that use gelatin, and cakes. There, I said it. Let the gasping commence.

People love cakes. This is probably because most major celebrations require a cake. They're just festive dammit! To make matters worse, cakes are quite the rage right now - witness Ace of Cakes, Cake Wrecks, etc. Cakes are definitely high on the food chain in the baking realm. They're the upper crust, the icing on top, I'm running out of silly puns (aren't you glad?).

What's even worse is that I come from a long line of cake makers. My mom and her sisters are experts in the art of cake makery and each has a specialty. Mom bakes a mean carrot cake- despite my avowed love of all things from Rose Bakery their carrot cake cannot touch my mother's. My Aunt Shelley (whom I was named after) makes an amazing pound cake with a cooked chocolate icing and my Aunt Ferolyn makes so much good stuff, I can't even choose. She has supplied me with homemade strawberry preserves and venison sausage- I'm not about to burn that bridge! Between the sisters, at least one cake is baked weekly (probably a couple). They're all terrific, tasty, and beautiful in that homemade way that just can't be replicated in a bakery.
An old friend I recently reconnected with invited my husband and I over for dinner last Saturday night. Despite my misgivings about my cake making skills, I decided to bring a cake. Hope was making fried chicken and cake just seemed to be in order. She's very kind so I knew she'd forgive me even if the cake turned out to be a total mess. It wasn't but I still need a lot of practice (you can judge for yourself by the pic above). 
I pulled out a recipe I've made a couple of times before- cinnamon cake with a chili-chocolate buttercream. Yes, I know I don't like buttercream. I am a walking contradiction. I can make an exception for buttercream when it calls for both bittersweet and white chocolate. This icing is really good and it doesn't have the slippery texture of a cooked buttercream. Note that the icing recipe as written makes enough for about two cakes. I stored the extra in the fridge for a future batch of chocolate cupcakes but it could be halved easily. Be careful when baking this cake- even a minute too long will cause the cake to be dry. 

1 comment:

  1. You had me at the word 'chile'. Looks scrumptious!